In my pursuit for better mental health, I’ve found a lot of self-help and recovery resources that point to comforting activities to do when you’re having intensely negative emotions or massive anxiety.

I’ve also seen mental health tips like, “do something that you love” or “take up a hobby,” to encourage emotional happiness and decrease stress.

Both of these are good tips, but without practical and personal application, they become meaningless.

I got frustrated making my own list of comforting activities because I confuse comfort and pleasure. I’m not very good at self-care, and I had a hard time making the list because of my confusion. Unless I sat down to confront the differences, I could be engaging in the wrong type of activity for my needs.

So in order to better serve my mental health, I have to distinguish between comfort and pleasure. It looks something like this:

Comfort is soothing, distraction, calming, and healing

While it can certainly be enjoyable, the main benefit is that it is soothing and calming. It will both center me and distract me from any harmful stimuli (especially negative thoughts). Some comforting things to me would be:

  • Listening to soothing, relaxing music (smooth jazz is my go-to)
  • Tactile comforts like playing with kinetic sand or squishing a rubbery toy
  • ASMR videos
  • Lighting a candle
  • The smell of printed magazines or books
  • Taking a bath
  • Using face masks
  • Opening the blinds during a sunny day or stepping outside for a moment to absorb some sunlight
  • Looking at the stars/galaxies (outside or pictures online)
  • Breathing exercises

Pleasure is fun, enjoyable, rewarding, exciting, makes your heart pump, floods you with dopamine

Like I said before, pleasure and comfort can cross paths, but the main benefit of seeking pleasurable or enjoyable activities is ultimately about increasing happiness. Seeking hobbies and interests which you’re passionate about gives your life purpose and fulfillment. Here are the activities that really get my blood pumping:

  • Music – especially listening through a good pair of headphones
  • Connecting with people who make my heart happy, who make me laugh, who really get me
  • Writing
  • Playing video games
  • Learning new things, especially about vocabulary, space, deep sea, or psychology
  • Making videos/short films to tell the stories I envision

When to Use These Activities

Now that we know the difference, here is how I like to utilize the items in each category:

Comfort:

  • High anxiety
  • Dissociation
  • Stressful situation
  • Being upset or sad

Pleasure

  • Bad mood
  • Depressed
  • Feeling listless or restless
  • Being in a rut

What are some things on your comfort list or pleasure list?

8 thoughts on “Comfort Vs. Pleasure

  1. I’m guilty of mixing these two up as well, though I hadn’t realised until reading your post. I love your breakdown, and the appropriate uses for each one. My top comforting activity is definitely taking a bath. It feels like all my stress/anxiety just goes away down the plughole! As for pleasure, probably writing or listening to music.

    1. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your activities! I too love a bath, especially with epsom salt. I also have to agree about writing and music! I have a playlist specifically for putting me in a good mood. Works like a charm ๐Ÿ™‚
      Hope you are well!

  2. Oh my! Thatโ€™s so uncanny that my playlist post seriously relates to the things you like here!! Whoa!

    Love love the post and the information shared. Definitely learned something new today.

    Woohoo! Off to a fantastic start. Blessings!!

    -Brit

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! And yes, I think it’s super cool and kind of spooky/cool that it correlated to your playlist post!

  3. This is such a great post. I think a lot of us confuse the two. I love how you listed which is a comforting moment or a pleasure moment. I will definitely be using some of your tactics after a long day at work.
    Nancy | Myeverydaychallenges.com

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